Last week on “Family Feud,” the clue was “We asked 100 people ‘Name something you shouldn’t be ashamed of.’ ” One of the contestant’s answers was “Gettin’ old.” I don’t know who was more taken aback, me or Steve Harvey.
It immediately reminded me of the old Bob Wills song Don’t be Ashamed of Your Age, which contains the line “Don’t be ashamed of the gray in your hair: think of all the fun you had puttin’ it there.” I try to do just that. Problem is, a few wrinkles and gray, thinning hair makes people perceive you differently. For example, some weeks back I was checking out at the local grocery store when the sales clerk asked if I was OK. “I’m fine,” I assured her. “Why on Earth do you ask?” She said “Well, you were clutching your chest.” I had to laugh. My cell phone was in my shirt pocket and I had my hand cupped over it so it wouldn’t fall out when I bent over to snatch my purchases out of the cart and place them on the convey-er belt. She thought poor gramps was having a milk carton-induced infarction.
Truth is, my old friends and I are getting decrepit, some more than others. I refuse to look the way I feel and often force myself to stand up straight and maintain a steady gait. I fear this sometimes makes me look like I’m being held up by a grappling hook through the nape of my neck and am being prodded along on a treadmill. Hopefully I manage to fool some people into thinking I’m healthy. As Oscar Wilde said, “The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible.”
So far I believe I’ve managed to age somewhat gracefully. One of the most cringy things to me is watching someone trying to act younger than their age. For this reason I don’t talk a lot about contemporary music although I follow it pretty closely. Well, except for rap, most of which I don’t consider music – which really shows my age.
I know, I know… Kanye West is a genius. Just ask him. Well, if that’s true I guess I’m a braying ass, which exactly describes Kanye as far as I’m concerned. If he could keep his sneering mouth shut outside the recording studio I might be more inclined to give his “music” a listen. Nah.
I’ll end on a positive note. Aging, like great art, puts us in touch with our common humanity. It’s the great equalizer. It’s hard to feel all superior when you’re undergoing bowel prep for a colonoscopy. We may as well try to see the humor in it. New and exciting diseases are always just around the corner. While we’re waiting we may as well try to mellow like vintage wine rather than just rotting away like moldy cheese.